[Editor: This article was published in The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 27 November 1915.]
Judge’s severe remarks.
A libel action, in which the issue was concerned with the performance of the trotting horse Dudley’s Orphan, was concluded in the Supreme Court yesterday before the Chief Justice and a special jury. The plaintiff, a dairyman, named Walter Noad, claimed £1000 from “Truth” newspaper for publishing paragraphs conveying an alleged meaning that he was guilty of disreputable and dishonest practices in connection with the running of the horse.
Addressing the jury at the conclusion of the evidence, his Honor delivered a severe criticism upon the sport of horseracing in general. He said:—
When he thought of the amount of racing in the State and its quality, and when he had to deal with exposures such as were made in the course of evidence in the case, he felt the necessity of placing some restraint upon his own language.
It was very often said that racing improved the breed of horses. From what had been seen in that Court he was inclined to say that racing injured the morals of the people, especially when one found man after man going into the box, even respectable tradesmen, who were not participants at all, and saying that they saw nothing wrong in taking advantage of a gigantic swindle like one perpetrated in the present instance.
One witness had asked if counsel would not take an advantage of an opportunity like that himself, and when counsel replied, “No,” the witness said, “You are no sport.” That was not the first time he had heard the word “sport,” used in that sense, and he was very much afraid that horseracing, what one time was a sport, was now becoming a very sordid business. Indeed, he had once before him in court a gentleman, who described himself as a “sport,” and after the witness had been cross-examined, he (his Honor) had come to the conclusion that if his definition was a correct one, a “sport” was a person who had decided disinclination to do an honest day’s work. The witness had told him that everyone — horse-owners, trainers, jockeys and the general public — went to the races for the purpose of “getting a bit of dough.” That was how he had first learned the meaning of the word. He was very much afraid it would require a great deal of honesty to leaven the mass of corruption which certainly seemed, in his opinion, to be involved with racing.
Undoubtedly time after time the horse, Dudley’s Orphan, had been pulled. It seemed that he had almost won by an accident on November 14, and he did win on December 12 when everyone concerned backed him. The horse and its rider and owner had been disqualified on account of its running, and thus it came about that a horse bred and born in the sanctity of a convent had suffered what Mr. Haynes had described as the deepest degradation that could befall a man, namely, disqualification at the “trots.” It was to be hoped that, as the result of the disqualification, the horse would be promoted to a more respectable position of being driven in a tradesman’s cart.
The jury awarded the plaintiff the nominal damages of 1s.
The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 27 November 1915, p. 17 (third edition)
Also published in various other newspapers, including:
The West Australian (Perth, WA), 26 November 1915, p. 10 (a slightly shorter version)
Saturday’s Journal (Adelaide, SA), 27 November 1915, p. 3
The Register (Adelaide, SA), 27 November 1915, p. 11
dough = (slang) money
Dudley’s Orphan = a racehorse, based in Western Australia
pulled = in the context of horse-racing, to slow a horse during a race (a reference to a jockey pulling on the reins of a horse, in order to slow it down)
s. = a reference to a shilling, or shillings; the “s” was an abbreviation of “solidi”, e.g. as used in “L.S.D.” or “£sd” (pounds, shillings, and pence), which refers to coins used by the Romans, as per the Latin words “librae” (or “libra”), “solidi” (singular “solidus”), and “denarii” (singular “denarius”)
trots = trotting races; horse races (commonly rendered as “the trots”)
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]